New Study Found People with Autoimmune Diseases Underreport their Mental Health Status
More than half of people with autoimmune diseases experience mental health conditions, yet many do not report their symptoms or are never asked about their mental state by a provider. The amount or burden of neurological and psychiatric (neuropsychiatric, or NP) symptoms is higher for people with systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases (SARDs), like lupus, than previously recognized, and symptom type and severity is often unreported or underreported.
The Investigating Neuropsychiatric Symptom Prevalence and Impact in Rheumatology Patient Experiences (INSPIRE) Project looked at the NP symptoms of 1,853 people with SARDs, which included people with lupus, as well as 463 people who served as controls. In addition, researchers interviewed 289 clinicians, including rheumatologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists, to understand symptom identification, diagnosis and management.
The study revealed that people with SARDs had significantly higher self-reported prevalence of NP symptoms compared to healthy people.
- The highest prevalence of NP symptoms among those with SARDs included fatigue (89% in SARDs vs. 34% in controls), insomnia (76% vs. 49%), and cognitive dysfunction (70% vs. 22%).
- People with lupus reported the highest prevalence of NP symptoms.
- Significant differences in symptom frequency between males and females were reported, and women experienced more symptoms than men.
- A low percentage of clinicians (4%) reported never or rarely asking their rheumatology patients about mental health symptoms.
This study aims to encourage further exploration, discussion, and inclusion of a greater range of SARD NP symptoms in autoimmune disease research and clinical setting to assess prevalence. Learn more about mental health and wellness.
Interested in getting research like this straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our bimonthly Inside Lupus Research email for all the latest.Subscribe Now